(This is a rough translation and adaption of my Norwegian writing: Scientologikirken spammer meg.)
A few days ago, a spam showed up in my inbox. Something which is quite rare, both because the mailbox is protected by “SpamAssassin”:http://spamassassin.apache.org/ and because Opera takes care of the rest, and if neither of these filters take care of the spam, my very own brain filters the rest. This one made me stop though, because the spam’s Subject line was in Norwegian. Unsolicited Commercial Email, or spam if you please, is illegal in Norway.
I’m not going to go into great detail on what Scientology, aka Dianetics, aka “Church of Scientology International” is and does. “xenu.net – Operation Clambake”:http://xenu.net/ does that much better.
I’ll offer a personal observation about what Scientology looks like to me: A quasi-religious mix of cult, quasi-psychology and science fiction. A “dangerous mix”:http://www.lisamcpherson.org/ at that. An organization that will do anything to make their members part with they money the members do, or even don’t have. In Norwegian court, “Borgarting Lagmannsrett”, Scientology has been “convicted”:http://heim.ifi.uio.no/~jonhaug/1996-10-14ankesak95-00524A.html for this, and had to pay NOK 600 000 in damages.
Not unlike the “Nigeria Scam”:http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/ the scientologists will appeal to the dreams of the victim. The dreams are different, but the end result is the same: Economic revenue from the victims. Allow me to elaborate.
The “spam I received”:http://antibiomatika.net/spam/scientologispam.txt read:
From: “Oslo Org” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: BillettenHi Arve, [Missing image, it was refering to the local filesystem of the spam-sender] FREE admission Bring this "ticket" and your friends OPEN YOUR MIND And increase your self-confidence DIANETICS a SCIENCE DEVELOPMENT a Dianetics - Movie Watch it today, and find the key for how to lead a happy life.
The mechanisms involved:
# They attempt to establish personal contact, by knowing my name, and addressing me directly. To create or penetrate my personal sphere.
# They attempt to convey that this is risk-free, by sticking the capitalized “FREE” there.
# They attempt to flatter me, and say that I’m lucky, by inviting me and my friends to a very special occasion.
# Then they tell me there is a prize, a large on at that. I’m both going to get an open mind, and that my self-confidence will be much better.
# Only at this stage do they attempt to identify their “cure”, by telling me that this is a film about “dianetics”. Note that nowhere yet is scientology mentioned.
# Driving the final nail in: They tell me that dianetics is the cure, it’s they key to the happy life.
Many years ago, when I was still in college, I worked part-time in telemarketing. The sales receipe of a successful telemarketer is quite similar:
# Establish personal contact.
# Minimize/eliminate risk.
# Make the customer curious.
# Identify the product, in the briefest terms possible.
# Make an irresistible offer.
A skilled telemarketer will complete this process and close the sale within a time of two minutes, including the time needed to verify name and address.
I’m not going to accept the scientologists offer to see their movie, but I presume the next step would be to run another iteration of this process, by wanting to give me the “free opportunity” one of their “tests” is. That test will, ofcourse, tell me that I have problems that only Scientology can solve, no matter what I answer to their tests. I took the time to look at one of their tests, and I noted that it seemed to be a severely distorted version of tests used in psychology: Wherein psychology, there is no “wrong” answer to the question, the scientology test only offered responses where every answer was “wrong”.
So, if you’re approached by scientologists, treat them for what they are: Spammers. If legislation where you live prohibits email spamming, file a complaint.
If they approach you on the street, treat them for what they are: Spammers. Tell them to sod off.
If they approach you on the phone, treat them for what they are: Spammers. Tell them to go away, and if they call you again, report them for stalking.
Treat them for what they are: Spammers. Don’t fall for their scheme.